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For context, this is a post by an ex-American talking to Americans from a distance that time and experience has privileged me with. It's not meant to be beyond that.

[Except in one way. orts, the second roll of CVS tooth floss ran out yesterday. I think you're the only person who remember what that means.]

So, there's this labour action going on in Alberta. Background is, the Conservative Government is, in its process of trying to Americanize Canada, creating huge detention centres in the factory-jail model and "getting tough on crime" in order to increase the incarcerated population and to privatize the detention facilities in order to use the underclass as a means to raiding the public purse.

I don't think they factored in the fact that the guards would be willing to go on strike.

See... this affects my hometown. Kingston was always known as a prison town. Some of the most notorious lockdowns were here. Kingston Pen was THE prison to be detained in if you were somebody in the history of crime. Collins Bay, Joyceville, and the even more notorious Milhaven (opened in 1971 because Kingston Pen got too crowded) are all within 20 minutes drive of each other around Kingston.

Last year, the Conservatives announced they would start shutting them down and moving prisoners West to the new Alberta factory prisons.

Collins Bay in particular had a farm on it, which was to get inmates more acquainted with taking care of animals and a profit-making establishment as part of their rehabilitation process. The local food movement staged a sit-down to stop this happening. I buy my grocieries from several people who still have their trials coming up for sitting in the road, blocking the cattle trucks from leaving.

But back to the strike. A prison-for-profit can't turn a profit when the guards are insisting on safer conditions, for the management to keep the conditions in the prisons in the livable range. Right now, the Federal government is having to shell out to pay RCMP riot police overtime to manage the conditions in the prison, and it's making a VERY BAD public impression on the Canadian public.

So why hasn't this happened in the States? Well, it's simply because Americans can't afford to strike.

Sure the unions are weak in the States, but they're weak here, too. The same union-busting political changes hammered through by Reagan happened here under Clarke and Mulroney. Unions have no real power, and just as often get in the way of their members as help them.

No, it's not legislation. It's universal health care.

Canadians can go on strike because they know that, expensive as health care is, they will get it even if it is slower to deliver than it might be under a private system. They'll get it between jobs, and can consider jobs that don't offer full benefits, because the main one is covered already. Even if it might not have the most advanced equipment or the newest drugs. It's still there, so striking is possible, and so many other risky things.

Health care doesn't just support the pillar of quality-of-life that represents health, but ALL OTHERS. Without health care, we would just have to accept factory-prisons, and all the other abominations of big-money that plague our neighbours down South.

My point is that the lack of universal health care is easily the big stick that Corporate America holds over American workers. Without health care, Americans less often risk losing their jobs, so they don't strike as often as workers in the developed world. They less often take risks like starting small businesses. They don't take off a summer to travel and find out about themselves, unless they are living off Mom & Dad. They don't risk taking up fiction or poetry as a career, because the health care insurance isn't there for them.

I've pointed this out before: The most extreme example is the Comedian industry. The reason that there are so many Canadian comedians in Hollywood is because comedians are paid even less than authors, painters, poets, and so on until they break into the big time. Americans can so little afford to risk their health becoming comedians that the country next door dominates their comic industry.

I go through my LJ and my facebook pages and it's full of American authors and artists who are so driven that they MUST do what they do, but are now put in the position of having to beg for money to pay for their health care. An even larger proportion are working in underpaid, dull, and thankless jobs because they are perfectly happy surviving in a batchelor apartment eating bologna as long as they can write, but don't dare live without health insurance.

So I have to say it plain: A vote against universal health care is a vote for wage-slavery. Wage-slavery is not liberty. It is not fair, free, or just. It is a denial of those things. It's *gasp* Un-American.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 27th, 2013 01:41 pm (UTC)
Apr. 27th, 2013 06:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I just read this whole thing out loud.
Apr. 27th, 2013 07:38 pm (UTC)
Yep. I agree.
Apr. 28th, 2013 06:40 am (UTC)
I go through my LJ and my facebook pages and it's full of American authors and artists who are so driven that they MUST do what they do, but are now put in the position of having to beg for money to pay for their health care.

This is something that I see all the time, but that never fails to amaze and sadden.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )